Aussie stereotypes Essay
Around the world, people are raised not to stereotype others. However, they often define their own cultural identity by stereotyping themselves. Not only do the stereotypes provide the model that individuals seek to match, they also provide a sense of commonality that makes people feel that they are part of a community. For example, the Chinese have been described as: “Peaceful, hardworking and easily content. They respect elders, love children and are patient with their fellows. Chinese in general are reserve and humble. They believe in harmony and never look for confrontation. ”
It is not only the Chinese that like to self-stereotype. The Italians self-stereotype themselves as having great style, the French as having elegance, the Japanese as being hard workers, and the Spanish as being lovers of life. The stereotypes are picked up by outsiders and in turn multiplied, particularly in travel guides where travellers are eager to know something about the kind of culture they are about to visit. In Australia, there are some individuals who can appreciate the benefits of a cultural identity and who have created stereotypes to own that identity. One such Australian is Peter Cosgrove, ex-Chief of the Army.
According to Cosgrove, “Without doubt the best quality we observe across the entire Australian community is a natural willingness to pitch in and have a go, to help others. We see it of course whenever there is an emergency or a worthy cause. We see it in every community volunteer organisation from the lifesavers to the bushfire brigades through to the thousands of youth and mature age sporting clubs and those great international service organisations like Rotary and many others. We see it in our professional bodies such as the police, fire and ambulance services and of course in the defence force.
It is a generosity of spirit and a selflessness that is perhaps our most precious heritage to hand on to younger and newer Australians – a nation of people who care for and look out for each other. ” It is impossible to confirm the accuracy of Cosgrove’s stereotype. Certainly not all Australians volunteer to fight fires, guard beaches, join the army, work in a Salvation Army store, or pick up rubbish. However, even though a stereotype may not be true in practice, it may be true in myth and for this reason belief in the stereotype is a fact in itself. Also, when evoked in certain circumstances, the stereotype can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Individuals who believe it may conform to the positive social identity that the stereotype encourages. A myth of behaviour can then become a fact of behaviour. In other words, the stereotype becomes a guide about how to act and adjusts people in the process. Because individuals often act in conformity with stereotypes, advertisers often define stereotypes in the hope that the target audience will conform to them. For example, the lamb industry has often promoted the stereotype that there is something very Australian about eating lamb, (sheep are actually eaten all over the world. )
The campaign has been picked up by other businesses, such as McDonalds, which has also exploited the stereotype that as well as eating lamb, Australians put beetroot on hamburgers. For McDonalds, the stereotypes help build a localised rapport that makes the fast food chain appear less generic. Vegemite is another product that is stereotyped as something that true Australians consume. Compared to lamb, it is perhaps a better product to create the Australian stereotype because it is a uniquely Australian product (made from beer yeast) and most people from other countries can’t stand it.
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